Bill, Carol, Robert, Wendy, John and Kelly Stevenson can trace their baking history back to 1918 when their grandfather - Aussie Stevenson - became a baker, delivering fresh-baked goods to Dubbo residents by horse and cart.
The Village Hot Bake was established in 1982 (now Village Bakery Café) but due to the growth of the bakery, Earlyrise Baking Co was created as a sister company in 2001 to separate the wholesale and retail entities of the business.
Established in Dubbo 33 years ago, Village Bakery Café supplies freshly baked products for its customers seven days a week. Products include their famous award-winning 100% Beef Village Premium Pies, mouth-watering sliced breads, artisan breads, bread rolls, cakes, pastries, biscuits, breakfast and barista made Espresso coffee.
Employing over 40 staff at its Darling St site, the Stevenson family own and operate the business, while Bill, Robert and John are the directors and form the Executive Management team with Mark Stanford. The Bakery Café is managed by Emma Stevenson, with the help of Taylor and Beau – all fourth generation Stevensons.
Yesteryear family photos adorn the walls of the Bakery Café for all to reflect on Dubbo’s baking past, and in 2018, the Stevenson’s will celebrate 100 years of baking in the Dubbo area.
“This Bakery is cemented in Dubbo’s history and has a very loyal mix of local and regional customers,’’ according to Bill Stevenson.
In 1998, the Stevenson family won its first of two Gold Rhino Awards with Village Bakery Café named Dubbo’s Most Outstanding Business.
“The Rhino Awards recognise successful businesses and help in broadening the awareness of your business and brand to the wider community,’’ Mr Stevenson said.
“The Awards enable business owners to reflect on their efforts, the progress of their business, and they formally recognise the contribution of all their team who make the cogs turn every minute of the day.’’
It’s not just Dubbo’s central location and idyllic lifestyle that has ensured the success of the Village Bakery Café. The Stevensons have worked hard on their product lines and creating the ultimate customer experience.
“This area is popular with mothers’ groups, grandparents enjoying time with their grandchildren, travelers who want to give their kids some time to use up their energy and more recently, families for kids birthday parties,’’ Mr Stevenson said.
“We have worked hard to create a welcoming atmosphere at the Bakery Café.
“Our customers can warm up on a cold winter’s day by the open fireplace, or enjoy the trickling sounds of our courtyard fountain in spring; they can overlook the busy Café environment while viewing the historical photographs on our mezzanine level, or enjoy some family playtime in the playground and alfresco area.’’
Dubbo’s central location midway between the Melbourne and Brisbane route – as well as being the hub of the central west – has allowed the Village Bakery Café to service a larger customer base travelling through the City.
“We have a following of loyal customers, a high number of travellers who choose to stop and dine with us every time they pass through Dubbo, and a real ‘service with a smile’ culture that welcomes and farewells our customers every day,’’ he said.
In sharing one of the family’s secrets to success, Mr Stevenson said ‘turning up to work every day because you want to, not because you have to!’
“To run a successful business, you have to love what you do and love working with your team,’’ he said. “A consistent, great attitude is infectious on everyone around you which creates great performers and makes so many more business opportunities achievable.
“I also believe you must listen to your frontline – they are treading the coal face every day and can tell you a lot of important information about the business, good and bad.’’
Mr Stevenson said being in business was also about ‘giving back’ to the community.
“We pride ourselves on giving back to the community by employing locally, buying locally and donating bread, cake and pie products to local charity events and donating products to a different charity seven nights a week,’’ he said.